THANKSGIVING Day in the United States commemorates the Pilgrims' celebration of their first successful harvest, in November of 1621. They had come from England --arriving the previous year in December--and had experienced much loss of life and great privations. Their gratitude for their first bountiful harvest was deep and genuine.
What is perhaps less well known is the Pilgrims' active effort to live at peace with their fellowman, specifically the Indians. This was not always easy, but their success is illustrated by the presence of roughly ninety Indians at the first Thanksgiving--almost equal to the number of settlers!
All of this would simply be ``history" if it weren't that the quest for peace and harmony right in our own neighborhoods--not to mention around the globe--is still going on. In that sense, all of us are pilgrims, still journeying across stormy seas and living in rugged lands.
And the earlier Pilgrims have an example to offer us that is worth considering. They were willing to pray and to trust God under all circumstances--both in their journey by sea and later as they established their settlement. God was a real entity to them; He was their sure de-liverer. They expected and received answers to their prayers.
As we look around our neighborhoods and our nations during this Thanksgiving period, we can build our prayers on God's love for all of His children and pray to know this love in our lives. We find proof of His presence as we begin to recognize and to live some of the spiritual qualities that are essential to peace.
Love is one of those qualities because love helps to eliminate barriers--racial, ethnic, political, religious. Through Christ Jesus' life and ministry we know that God is Love, infinite good. In our true identity, we are God's creation, man, and each of us has a built-in ability to express love and a natural inclination to do so.
With this in mind, we can reject whatever would lead us to behave in an unloving way toward our fellow beings. Negative tendencies--whether hating our neighbors or speaking cruelly about religious or ethnic groups who are in conflict elsewhere--are no part of our true nature as God's spiritual offspring, and they do not inspire peace. They grow out of the belief that man is material and is in conflict not just with his fellow beings but with all of creation.
We can counter beliefs that conflict is nec-essary as we learn to trust God's care. The Pilgrims--facing a fierce and untamed land--had to trust God because they had no other option. But even for us, the act of relying on God can bring closer the peace we long for. This occurs because turning to Him is an affirmation of our willingness to obey His law and direction. And Matthew's Gospel in the Bible tells us that Christ Jesus declared, ``Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
This willingness to trust God's help to bring peace--whether in our families, at work, at school, or on the global scene--may require great persistence. We can trust in God, however, because such prayer lifts us above the conflict to an impartial yet totally loving Deity. Instead of trying to rearrange the mortal pieces in a way that will bring peace, we are looking to infinite intelligence and goodness for an answer.
The solution comes as we see God's law of love, of good, in operation and acting as a reliable Science in our lives. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains this concept in the first chapter of her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She writes: ``Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it. Goodness attains the demonstration of Truth."
The evidence of truth bringing peace to our lives can take many different forms. In the Pilgrims' case, one such example was a friendly Indian who enabled them to make friends with others. In our case it may come as an insight into the nature of people we are dealing with. Other times it comes as a new view of God and of His love for man or a fuller understanding of our true, spiritual nature. We may realize that since we are all actually the offspring of God, we are united by our common oneness with our
divine Father. Or we may suddenly see very clearly the need to give up a form of mortal behavior that is standing in the way of peace.
We each have our own storm-tossed seas to negotiate each day. But the prayer that stood the earlier Pilgrims in such good stead is still available and will not wear out from use. With it, we will find the safe harbors we need, wherever our journey finds us.
Thous shalt keep the feast of weeks
unto the Lord thy God
with a tribute of a freewill offering
of thine hand, thou shalt give
unto the Lord thy God
according as the Lord thy God
hath blessed thee:
and thou shalt rejoice
before the Lord thy God,
thou, and thy son, and thy daughter,
and thy manservant, and thy maidservant,
and the Levite that is
within thy gates,
and the stranger, and the fatherless,
and the widow, that are among you,
in the place which the Lord thy God
hath chosen to place his name there.